The Water Castle
Megan Frazer Blakemore
illus by Jim Kay
Walker Books for Young Readers
8-12 years old
When my children were 6 and 8, we drove to Rangeley Maine for a vacation listening to Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. It was slow going at first. The language is more old fashioned and my kids weren’t sure why the characters used poor English. I tried not to over-talk anything and let them take it where they were. Suddenly as they realized what was happening, they became mesmerized. After the audiobook, we sat and talked about living forever and what that would mean. Their discussions, as all children’s do, amazed me. They know so much in such a little time lived.
A few days ago I read The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore and was struck by the same thinking. My children recognized the theme as well. She does mention Tuck Everlasting early on, so the connection was made for us as well. In this case the fountain of youth was more of an extended better life than a situation where you stayed the same age and health forever. The Appledore-Smith family is dealing with their father’s recent stroke and its complications. They move from Cambridge Massachusetts to Crystal Springs Maine in the hopes that he will get better more quickly through the restorative spring water. It is during their time there the three children, Brynn, Ephraim, and Price, find out there has been a generational secret in Crystal Springs.
Entwined in the story is the coming of age of three friends whose families have been at odds for generations. They learn about trust and they learn to rely on the strengths of individuals to make the whole stronger. The book reads as a classic. There are so many facets to think about and connect to our world outside the confines of the book cover. I highly recommend this book particularly for a book group read since the conversations will be interesting and diverse around how each character solves their problems.